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Rehoboth man stranded but happy in Croatia

Shannon McNaught * Delaware
shannon.marvel@doverpost.com
Dover Post
Dover Post

A world traveler who returns to Rehoboth Beach each year is stuck in Croatia.

Before leaving the country in September, Howard Gorrell spoke at a Sussex County Council meeting for the fourth time.

“Another year of the lack of affordable housing forced me to be … Airbnb-hopping in Europe beginning next Monday,” he told the council. “I will stay there until around May 15, when my three employers need me badly for the 2020 summer.”

Gorrell was born in 1944, while his father was in Rome in the army. On Sept. 19, 2019, he began leading family members of soldiers from his father’s infantry division on a tour, retracing their World War II Italian campaign.

It was the first leg of a European tour, not Gorrell’s first and likely not his last. From Oct. 9 to 19, Gorrell was team leader of the USA Deaf Tennis Team in the World Deaf Tennis Championships in Antalya, Turkey. He then traveled around Turkey for a few weeks to watch the World Deaf Cycling Championships and the European Deaf Karate and Taekwondo Championships.

Gorrell started traveling all over Europe Nov. 8, spending a few days in cities in Italy, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia. On Jan. 31, he landed in Rijeka, a coastal town in northeast Croatia.

His plan was to stay in Rijeka for February, then spend March in a different Croatian beach town. There were more travel plans after that, but everything was put on hold when governments started restricting movement due to COVID-19.

Gorrell’s adult daughter lives in Frederick, Maryland. When the U.S. Department of State raised the travel advisory to Level Four, she asked him to fly home immediately.

However, he had no rental arranged in Delaware and no place to stay.

Gorrell worked three jobs, up to 66 hours a week, in Rehoboth last summer. After a career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and an independent living counselor for the deaf, his work is mostly supplemental income to pay for travel. He’s concerned about the pandemic’s effect on this year’s summer season.

“The coming summer could be more challenging to predict,” Gorrell said. “Will tourists come to the beaches? Will international students be able to go and work? When will the curve flatten?”

If he left Europe around May 15 as planned, he would likely have a 14-day quarantine, unable to work until after Memorial Day or later. Gorrell is tentatively planning to stay in Croatia until the crisis wanes, and has zero complaints about it.

He’s staying in a highly-rated Airbnb room with a view of the Adriatic Sea at $19 per night. Airbnb rooms in Rehoboth start at $45 a night, without an ocean view.